In episode 361, Megan chats with Taran Conwell about hiring a mother’s helper so that you can carve out more time for blogging.
We cover information on why this is an economical option vs hiring a VA, how this offers benefits to newer bloggers, how to find a mother’s helper and to offer an affordable rate.
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Bio Cari Garcia is a healthcare worker turned full time content creator. She began blogging in 2010 as a hobby for a hectic 9-5 in inpatient mental health. It started as just checking out local restaurants and in the last 5 years shifted to sharing latin inspired recipes. Cari focused on social media and gained a great following. Since COVID, working in a hospital has burnt her out so Cari took the plunge to turn a fulfilling hobby into a full time job.
- You open up time to get things done you can’t with young kids.
- A mother’s helper tends to be younger and isn’t expected to do as much as a nanny would and is more affordable.
- When you hire someone to help you, you will be more intentional with your time and get productive.
- Network with moms to find a mother’s helper. You can use it online on FB or in a neighborhood group.
- Keep the expectations up front for the helper should have fun with the kids but not required to clean or do anything else.
- Allowing yourself permission to work uninterrupted on blogging while your kids are being played with gives you confidence.
- Using home schooled kids allows you to be flexible with the daytime hours.
- Interview the kids – ask what they are into and what they enjoy. Ask them if they’re comfortable not being on their phone. Ask about their comfortability in changing diapers, etc. Trust your intuition.
- Offer a couple visits on ‘trial’ and pay them to see how it goes.
- How to determine affordable pay: pay the grade level of the child + $1 for each additional kids.
Click for full script.
EBT361 – Taran Conwell
Taran Conwell: Hi, this is Taran Conwell from the UnDomestic Mom Podcast, and you are listening to the Eat Blog Talk podcast.
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Megan Porta: Hey food bloggers. Welcome to Eat Blog Talk, the podcast for food bloggers looking for the value and confidence that will move the needle forward in their businesses. This episode is sponsored by RankIQ. I am your host, Megan Porta, and you are listening to episode number 361. I’m so excited I have Taran Conwell with me today. She is going to talk to us all about hiring a mother’s helper so we can carve out more time for blogging. Taran is on a mission to dismantle the watered down version of self care in today’s motherhood. She takes millennial moms from survival to thrival mode by teaching them to expect more and do less. She helps them create and implement their own restorative self care routines and find fulfillment outside of motherhood. Taran, I’m super excited to have you here today. Thank you so much for joining me. How are you?
Taran Conwell: I’m good, Megan. Thank you for having me. I’m really excited to be here.
Megan Porta: Yes, same. I’m super pumped for this chat, but before we get into it, we would love to know what your fun fact is.
Taran Conwell: So my fun fact, I think this is one that I pulled that I think your listeners might really enjoy. I’ve actually been asked three times to submit content for the Rachel Ray show, yet I have never made it on the show.
Megan Porta: Oh my God.
Taran Conwell: It’s an honor to be nominated. But yeah, basically, when the show first started at this point, I think that was 10 years ago, over 10 years ago. I applied, I sent in a submission to be on the show and for whatever reason, one of the producers just really enjoyed my personality. So for three or four, over the span of maybe four or five years every other year he would contact me, asked me to make a cooking video. I was a huge, I still am, but a huge fan of Rachel Ray. So he’d be like, we’re doing this segment. Can you make this video? I would make this video back in the day on my flip camera. I look back, the quality was hysterical, but every time I don’t know, I think he adored me, but whatever I didn’t make it past the cutting room floor. So I never made it. But I am hopeful one day I will still get to be on her show.
Megan Porta: Okay. One day it has to stick, right? One of these times, the odds are in your favor. I think if they keep saying yes, and then no, eventually it’ll be a yes.
Taran Conwell: Yes. I’ve got to start submitting things again. For a while, I took a break. I was like, you know what guys? This is a bit much. I’m gonna have totake a break for a bit. But I’m restored again. I wanna try it again.
Megan Porta: Oh, yes. And let me know when you get on. I’m excited for you. I think it’s definitely gonna happen. So cool, Taran. And you’re right, this is the perfect audience to share that with. I think everyone will be squealing for you. Okay. You’re here today to talk about just motherhood and how it can be a lot, especially when you’re a blogger and you need to carve out more time for all of those blogging tasks that we have. You have a journey that kind of resulted in something not so great, which is being a burnout mom. I’ve been there too, Taran. So can you just talk us through your journey, like how did you get to that point?
Taran Conwell: Sure. Yeah. So currently, I have three kids. They’re seven and a half, five and two. So when my oldest was I think three, and my middle was six months, I realized I was hitting a wall just in life. L I was staying home with my kids. I was running a home daycare, but I just wasn’t feeling any sort of fulfillment. In fact I’ve always loved to cook, and so I found myself like every night, my biggest thing was asking my husband, like, how was that dinner? Do you like that recipe? Sometimes he’d say, oh, yeah, it’s good. I’d like, oh, was it just good? Okay. We would have started to have these arguments where he’d say, I love you, but I cannot be the only source of accolades in your life. He didn’t even know what he was saying at the time, but it honestly opened up this whole aspect of me that was like, yeah, as a stay at home mom, you don’t really get, not necessarily the gratitude, but you don’t get the accolades. You don’t get this was awesome, thanks for doing that. Your kids are little, they don’t realize what you’re doing for them. A friend of mine had a blog and I decided I would start a blog and it started as just a mom blog and it transitioned pretty quickly into a food blog. I really loved cooking. I loved meal planning. I loved sharing my recipes and so I did that while I had two kids and having this home daycare and grew it and then got pregnant with my third. It was all kind of fine and dandy until that, but then the pandemic hit. Honestly, even before the pandemic hit, I was feeling the burnout. I don’t have great pregnancies, and I was exhausted. You’re in that phase of, I was getting traction with the blog and I was wanting to put all this time into it. But I didn’t have the time to put into it because I was with, not only my own kids like I said, I was running a home daycare, so I had other kids I was taking care of and I just got to this point where everything, I feel like burnout, it’s like everything feels gray. Nothing is exciting to you. You don’t really have the zest of life that you normally have. One of the things I did was hire a mother’s helper and that helped me so much. Then the pandemic hit. I had to pull back on her for probably a good nine months, I want to say. But then we got into a groove of having a pod and I was able to bring her back into my life. But it was just a lot when you are a mom, especially what I call active motherhood with your kids, who are under the age of eight. Even if you just have one, you still know that’s under the age of eight. It’s a lot. I think I just was trying to do way too much on my own and I never wanted to put undomestic mom down because I recognized how much my blog was really fulfilling me and something I looked forward to, but it did add extra, so much more work to my week.
Megan Porta: Oh my gosh, what a crazy story. But I think we can all relate to that on some level. As you were talking through it, I was like, yeah, I’ve been there so many times. The pandemic too, when that hit. It all came around oh my goodness, this is a lot. Okay, so your mother’s helper idea was so good. I love that you tapped into that and that it actually gave you some relief. How did you come up with the idea of getting a mother’s helper?
Taran Conwell: Yeah, this is so funny because people will have asked me that and is this a mainstream idea? I always knew what it was. I think because I grew up babysitting, I was a mother’s helper back in the day. I also grew up reading the Babysitter Club books. That was a concept. The older girls are babysitters, but the two sixth graders are the mother’s helpers. So when I became a mom, I was just kinda oh yeah, because I had a babysitter. We didn’t have a ton of room in the budget to pay a babysitter what they want an hour. I just talked to a friend about oh, I wanna get a younger babysitter who charges less but I don’t expect them to do as much. They don’t have as much experience. Luckily an acquaintance, she’s now a friend, but at the time, which is an acquaintance, she’s oh,I have the perfect two girls. I’ll give you their numbers. They’re both, at the time, we’re in seventh grade. She’s like, they do that for me all the time. So I think it was like people knew what it was. I just don’t think that her mother’s helper was there. I think it was people just saying young babysitter, basically.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Okay, so let’s get into the logistics, but first I wanna ask you what you think the ROI is on getting a mother’s helper. If somebody listening is in the boat that you were, where they’re like, oh my gosh, this is too much, I can’t do this all. Talk about what the benefits are.
Taran Conwell: Yeah, so the benefits are, especially in all phases of blogging, but especially in the phase when you are still doing everything yourself. So I know a lot of times, we get the advice to hire a VA immediately, and I think that’s great. I definitely think that there’s a time and a place for a VA, but sometimes that feels a little bit overwhelming of like, how do I find one and like, how much is that gonna cost? What will I have them do? If you are like me, who’s a stay at home, maybe you’re with your kids. You kinda want just the time to blog. So the ROI, as far as paying them, my mother’s helper, the first mother’s helper I ever had was $8 an hour. I do my kind of pricing for a mother’s helper is their grade level per hour, plus $1 for each additional child. So I had two kids at the time, she was in seventh grade. I paid her $8 an hour. If you just say you found someone in a similar situation and maybe you had either two days a week where they came for two hours or maybe one weekend day where they came for four and you’re spending $32. Think of how much you could get done in that, like an undisturbed amount of time. If you really said to yourself, this is gonna be my work time. I could probably get two blog posts done in that time from start to finish, if I was really focused. So as you’re building up or maybe all your Pinterest scheduled for the month, or maybe you’re going to be creating Reels or whatever sort of social media you’re trying to break into. SEO keyword research. There’s so many things that I do with it, and I think that can be a really easy starting point versus, hiring a VA who’s, especially a beginning VA, who is also affordable and asking them to do those tasks. It’s almost sometimes a nicer, easier step to just have someone watch your kids so you can do those tasks. So I think the ROI on that, like I said, $32 and that’s just for four hours. You could have them just come two hours. Whatever you can afford. You don’t have to even have it be regular, but for a low amount you can really pump out a lot of work, I feel like on your blog.
Megan Porta: When you hire someone to come in, it forces you to be intentional and focused, right? You can’t mess around. They’re here, you’re paying them to be here, so you’ve gotta work. So you sit down and you work.
Taran Conwell: Absolutely. That’s what I was thinking the same thing too, is that it also for me, when I did, I typically do hire mother’s helper for oh, hey, can you come these two days a week? So they are more on a consistent basis and yeah those days I’ve already written down what I’m planning to get accomplished. But yes, when you, those times when you feel a little bit lower motivation to work on things, they come, they show up and I’m, right now I’m in what I call my cloffice, it’s like a closet office. So I just tuck myself away down here and yeah, I get to work because you’re like, they’re here. Especially again, if you’re, yep, I’m paying somebody. I’m taking this, maybe you are taking it from, again, it depends on what phase you’re in of blogging, but from your ad revenue or your affiliate income and you’re like, I’m gonna set this aside to get more work done. You do. You want it to be productive and it will be the most productive two hours of your life.
Megan Porta: Oh my gosh, yes. Also I wanted to mention I don’t have kids under the age of eight right now, but I could use help too. So I was thinking instead of a mother’s helper, for people who might have kids who are older and still need a little bit of help, like maybe personal assistant type stuff. That can fall into this too.
Taran Conwell: Definitely. Now, I currently have a part-time nanny and so she loves to organize. She said to me, if you ever want to pass my name because she loves doing that. So that’s the thing. Now I’m opening up my brain a little bit more even to just, if I paid someone who, yeah, doesn’t have the best, again, they’re young, but maybe you find a high schooler or a junior high student who loves to organize or maybe they love social media. Especially young people, like maybe they wanna come and help you create Reels or TikToks or write captions, I don’t know. I could see them being really good at that. So yeah, if your kids are older or just, even if you do have older kids, I was talking with my girlfriend over the weekend, her daughter’s 10. But she wants that playmate, and so if they’re trying to do stuff on the weekend, even still just having a 13 year old come over just to play Barbies and play fun little games, it’s like she doesn’t necessarily need to be watched, but she’s a kid who needs a lot of engagement. So it’s a nice little, just Hey, let me pay a 13 year old 20 bucks to come over maybe and play with my 10 year old.
Megan Porta: I was just thinking before we started recording, I was telling you about my husband after surgery and how I’m so stressed out to my max. I’m like, I need a husband’s helper.
Taran Conwell: Yes.
Megan Porta: As you’re talking, I’m like, oh, it’d be so nice to have that right now. But he’s recovering, he’s getting better. It won’t be like this forever. But being a mom, it’s like you can’t. You’re in it. You have to continue. You can’t just dump your children off somewhere. You have to be a mom. But getting that help you need can restore you and allow you to do other things with your blog and around your house can give you the energy you need. So how does someone go about finding a mother’s helper if this is intriguing? If they don’t have a neighbor or something really obvious in front of them.?
Taran Conwell: Yes. Because for a long time I’d asked around and nobody had a solution for me or a suggestion rather. I wish I had done this sooner. What I’ve done now, if my mother’s helper, she’s gotten older now she’s just my babysitter because she’s in high school. But then over the summer I wanted to be a new mother’s helper. I put up a post in my local Facebook mom’s group. So I just told the moms of my neighborhood name. Most people I feel like have those groups, and then those people all live near me. And so I put up a post like, Hey, I’m looking for someone over the summer. Just these are the hours I wanted someone to come in the afternoon for a couple hours, a couple days a week. Just put a few things I was looking for as far as telling them, Hey, I do have three kids. I do have a toddler who’s in diapers. Since now I do have three kids and I still have a toddler, I was looking for someone like in eighth grade, like I was looking for someone a little bit older. A ton of moms responded and they were just like, I have a daughter who would love to do that. I have a daughter. Then I met with them all and chose, then chose, and I used several of them. Get to know them and their strengths and what some are good at, others aren’t, and what others are good at. It’s very much, each personality does things a little bit better with my kids, and I love that. Yeah, so it was just this Facebook group. That’s what I’ve done since then. I’ve also had moms that I’ve recommended to them. I’ve never had to do it, but I have recommended it to moms. If you don’t wanna post it in a group, you can absolutely just post on your personal page because you never know if a girl you went to high school with, her niece might live two blocks away from you. You don’t really ever talk to her, but you’re friends with her on Facebook and you put this little post up and she messages you, Hey, yeah, my niece is 12. She lives two blocks away from you. She would love to do this. Let me give you her mom’s number. You know what I mean? You never really know that personal network, on Facebook, especially when you have so many people who, at least I do, that I’m friends with that I never talk to, but who live near me.
Megan Porta: It’s better to go personal, right? If you even have a slight connection with somebody. I think that the trust factor there carries so much weight. I’m sure it’s fine to interview and hire somebody who you don’t know, but I would say go personal if you can. I love that.
Taran Conwell: Yes. Yeah, I’ve always loved that too. Yeah, that is the great thing about Facebook is you can see who that person is also friends with. I think most of the time if their profile is not super private. So all the moms, you could see oh yeah, this person and this person. The moms will always come with them to the little interview, when you’re first meeting them, because they’re young. They’re worried about their kid. They don’t wanna just send their 12, 11, 13 year olds. So you, do you kinda get to like to know the moms and then Yeah, the girls, this last batch of girls, they all lived super close to me. I was also looking for someone who could either walk or bike to my house because I didn’t want to do drop offs and picks because that kinda sometimes takes away from oh, you’re here for two hours. But the pick up and drop off adds up. my son still napped, so that’s what I was looking for. Then the other thing when I met the girls was I just let them know, don’t want you to be on your phone. This is just really playtime for my kids.
Megan Porta: Good for you. I loved that.
Taran Conwell: Yeah. That’s something, yeah, I recommend moms, sometimes you feel like a lot of these girls are young enough that they don’t even have a phone yet, which is nice. The younger ones didn’t even have a phone. But I do. I’ll just say, hey, this is a paid position. I don’t expect cleaning. If I am serving lunch, I usually have it ready for them. It’s really just to play with my kids so I can get a break and my kids can have fun. As long as you say that, like I know a lot of times people are like, oh, they’re just gonna be on their phone. But I just know, if you say that, they respect it. If you don’t ever say it, they might be on their phone. They might not think you care. Yeah. But I say it and they have all pretty much respected it. I have a seven and a half year old now who she will say, they were on their phone the whole time and then I just don’t call them back. It’s happened a couple times.
Megan Porta: I love that she’s kinda telling on them.
Taran Conwell: Yeah. My kids love when their mothers help or babysitters come over because they love to play with them. So yeah, they were on her phone and she wasn’t playing with us. So don’t be afraid to say that as, put that up as what you’re looking for. Because again, you’re paying for this help. It’s not like you’re asking your sister to watch them or your in-laws. When you’re paying for help, it’s nice because you have a little bit more control over what goes on.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Setting those boundaries, in any area of our lives is so important, but especially when it comes to the people who are playing with and watching your kids. That is so smart of you and good for you for doing that. Just making it a non-issue up front. We’re not gonna be on our phones. So establishing that right away.
Taran Conwell: Yes. Exactly. Yeah. I just have a lot of friends who are teachers and so they’re always like you. Oh, but in junior high school, they can’t be off their phones. They’re always telling me that. They can’t be off their phone. They’re gonna be on their phone. I’m like, I don’t know. I think that we can expect them to not be, and like I said, I do know they are always on it, but if you just put that, like I said, you just say that, then they will be playing with your kids. Again, I usually have mother’s helpers here, not over four hours, so it’s not a big ask to just be engaged with the kids.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Yeah. That’s not a huge ask. Do you ever deal with these two words that I hate so much, but I think as a mom, we all have experienced this, the mom guilt.
Taran Conwell: Yes. I deal with mom guilt in lots of ways, not when it comes to the mother’s helper. Ironically enough though, which is funny. I was talking to Aubrey Mallek recently and she was saying the same thing. She’s what about the mom? Because she went from being a teacher to wanting to stay home with her kids. So she went from working mom to then trying to find something to work from home and be home with her kids and she did and she was successful at it. So she was saying like, I don’t want to then have help because I feel like this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to stay home with my kids. What’s funny for me is I had the inverse. I stayed home with my kids. I was a stay at home mom first, then I started my home daycare. So I never had the guilt of getting help because I was like, Ugh, I’ve already been with these kids a lot. So I think in any capacity, whether you are still currently working outside of the home a hundred percent full time and you’re blogging in the other time, your free time, or if you do stay home, work from home and your kids are home, you deserve time to yourself. Any of those areas you deserve time to yourself. I do think it was easier for me as a, like I said, stay at home mom, to just be like, yep, I deserve a break. But even if you’re just taking two hours, like I said, if maybe on, I don’t know, like I would say golf, but I know golf is longer than two hours. But say like your husband, maybe he does, he golfs every other Saturday or something to that effect. Then you are like, yeah, I’m gonna have a mother’s helper come while he’s gone and I’m gonna do something I wanna do. The kids are gonna have fun playing with somebody and do crafts and go outside. My husband’s gonna be golfing, so it’s a win. So I kinda like to look at it like that. Even if you are a full-time working mom, take a couple hours for yourself every week. You’re entitled to that and your kids are still being engaged. That’s what I love about it. You’re not necessarily and I use screens. I’m not against screen time. But it’s a different feeling than throwing on a movie while you’re trying to like, maybe get an email out or finish up a YouTube video for a brand deal that you have going versus oh, the mother’s helper’s coming, she’s gonna go outside with them. They’re gonna play for two hours while I finish this. I think that helps me a lot to ease the mom’s guilt. But yeah, it’s definitely there. Like I said, even super successful bloggers and online entrepreneurs who have, just feel oh, I should be with my kids this entire time.
Megan Porta: Oh my gosh, I’ve struggled with that so much. I can relate to all of that because it is like a balance. Would you rather have your kid’s doing something with someone that’s engaging them or just sitting and watching a movie? Yeah, that’s a really good question to ask yourself if you’re considering this. I think it’s a no brainer.
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Megan Porta: We talked about this a little bit early on, but how has this helped your business to grow? I know it’s given you intentional focus, time to sit down and work and get things done, but in what other ways has it helped your business?
Taran Conwell: Yeah, I think it’s, for one, it has given a bit of validity. I don’t know if you ever felt this sort of again, especially like in the beginning when I was in the beginning starting a blog or any sort of content creation that you’re doing, and you’re not making a ton of money from it and you’re not, you feel like it feels like a hobby, but you’re working at it and you’re trying to make money with it. Sometimes when you hire a little bit of help, that’s like the first step to having this validity to your business and a little bit more of an authority and then feeling that, almost infuses me. Iit pushes out the imposter syndrome and it almost infuses me with a little bit more yes, this is work. I am putting my best foot forward into this and I’m going to dedicate real time to things that move the needle forward versus if you’re a mom who’s trying to get things done on her computer when her kids are playing around her and you feel that wasn’t necessarily productive cause that was all over the place. It’s a really focused time and I’ve just felt that it has really been able to get me to think about my business, think about what I wanna do. Sometimes I will just take an hour of it to just be like, okay, let’s do a big brain dump. Quarter fours upon us. It lets me just take some time to really pull what I want to be doing. Then it just feels like I couldn’t have done that without this help because on the weekends, with my husband and everything, like if I don’t have a sitter, we’re doing family time or if this is going on, and then at night I’m a morning person, so at night I’m exhausted. Some moms who are night owls might not have that problem. But I can’t think at night. I can’t project, make plans. So I think just in that way, when you have a little bit of time where you’re like, yep, this is work time. It just brings, like I said, yeah, almost authority to who you are as a blogger and that has helped me tremendously.
Megan Porta: That can get the confidence level boosted, right? When you start getting the ball rolling like that, you’re like, oh, I can do this. This is so cool. Then that just leads to bigger things, I think.
Taran Conwell: Yes, absolutely. I don’t know, your listeners might feel this way, but I’m in a couple paid memberships that I really enjoy and sometimes those calls are during the day. Like I said, I have a toddler and so you know, before my kids were home, this is the first year my older two are at school full-time, but I still have my toddler. So it is nice when you have, and I should say I found mother’s helpers that are homeschooled, so I can still get, like even in, when it’s not summer, I can still usually get some week time mother’s helper. it’s nice because I can make that call. Sometimes there’s just the one Q and A for the month and you really wanna make it and it might just be at 11:00 AM. So I do think that’s like another aspect of it that really can push you forward because you’re like, okay, like I’m able to come to this focused, answer the questions, listen to what people are saying, not necessarily just one earbud in while you’re trying to hear what’s going on. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, that happens sometimes too. It’s just nice for me at certain times to be able to have that connection time with adults that I’m not around as a child.
Megan Porta: Do you look solely for kids who are homeschooled? Or how else do you navigate just daytime school year hours that you need help with?
Taran Conwell: Yeah. Over the summer I didn’t, cuz over the summer I was looking for someone. I don’t know, I almost go in little phases. Over the summer all my kids are home. So then it’s okay, I’m looking for someone who’s gonna be able to be here with all of them. Now I am looking for someone who could just be with a toddler. So again, I could have someone a little bit younger. So in that instance, I have done that before. I haven’t done it yet, but I’m thinking about it, doing it again. Like I said, I do have a nanny. She has a flexible schedule with her other family. I’m the secondary family, so she can usually give me time. But yes, I’ve thought okay, maybe I’ll put on another post. I’m looking for daughters because I get my girls. I have older girls and you might have boys and wanna work with a boy, you have a preference. But I would just post, does anyone have a girl who’s homeschooled and wants a mother’s help position? Again, I got replies. Not as many as when it was summer and I was looking, but I don’t know if it’s also because of the pandemic, but I see people even more out saying my daughter’s available. Sometimes it’s a hybrid. I see girls posting if they’re looking for a babysitting gig and they might say I only go to, typically high school, but in the morning then I’m available. There’s a lot more options I think now since the pandemic happened. A lot more kids did just decide to be homeschooled after, staying home and doing remote learning. Whether it’s remote learning or homeschooled. But if you just put that in your post, I think sometimes you’re like, I don’t know anyone who’s homeschooled. But there were a ton of options. I shouldn’t say a ton. I had plenty. I found some really great girls who came over. I’m in the suburbs of Chicago, so I guess it would depend on where you live, but I think for most areas, you could find someone. One of my friends is not in the Salt Lake City area, but she’s in Utah and she’s told me, there’s a lot more homeschooled here in my area. So she has to pick up the litter. So I think it depends on where you live. But just put that in your post. Hey, is anyone’s daughter homeschooled? Because typically homeschool kids like their workload, they don’t need to do seven hours of work. My kids are in school for seven hours, they’re able to get it done, and their moms are like, it’s a learning experience for them too.
Megan Porta: It’s like part of their curriculum, right?
Taran Conwell: It’s oh, they might not have any younger siblings, but hey, go learn to take care of a two year old. That’s a crash course in life right there.
Megan Porta: That’s real life.
Taran Conwell: Their moms typically do like that they’re earning a little bit of money because, junior high kids, they want things. They have things they wanna buy. The fact that they can’t just go get a job at McDonald’s or Panera cause they’re not old enough yet. I think it’s nice that their moms want them to be able to work. It’s a win-win for both families.
Megan Porta: Oh, absolutely. What sorts of questions do you ask when you invite people over for an interview?
Taran Conwell: Yeah, so I like to get to know them a little bit. So I usually ask them what they like to do for fun. They’re usually, again, not too many years away from when they played with toys. So I’ll usually ask them, what did you like to play with? I’ll phrase it like that. What did you like to play with when you were little? Which that could have been like a year ago. Like a sixth grader that I had that we met still had American girl dolls that she played with. So I like to ask them what they like to do for fun. If they’re into crafts. I have my older girls, or my girls are the older ones. They love crafts. They love dolls. So let me suss that out. Do you like doing pretend imaginative play? Do you like crafts? Are you cool with playdough? Then, Like I said, I always ask about the phone. Are you comfortable? I phrase it in that way: are you comfortable not being on your phone? Then I always bring up diapers because again, I still have a toddler in diapers. So if that is gonna be something for you, I would mention it. I did help a mom find a mother’s helper and she was just like, oh yeah, I just would change the diaper. She would just say, Hey, you know the baby needs a diaper. Can you change it? My son is in that very clingy phase where if he sees me reemerge, then he doesn’t want me to leave. So that’s why I want one who can change diapers. But yeah, so I just like to ask those, whatever things you’re really looking for. Maybe you are like, I have two older boys and they really like to play outside in football and climb and I don’t know, whatever. I don’t have older boys, so I always forget what they do but you might say, Hey, do you like doing these things or are you, do you like Harry Potter? Do you like legos? Kinda wanna ask me again about them. Interests to see, oh, will this be a good fit?
Megan Porta: To see if they align?
Taran Conwell: Yeah, exactly. And it doesn’t necessarily have to align perfectly, but sometimes you get someone who’s oh yeah, I love this and I love that. Then they just click. And the sitters I have now are just wonderful with my kids. My kids ask like, when are, when’s Lucy coming over? When’s Allison coming?
Megan Porta: Oh, I love that.
Taran Conwell: Yeah, because they do, they love to play. We play this fun and they’ll always tell me the little fun games they make up, so yeah. I just kinda like to get to know them a little bit in the interview and get just to read. I just tell moms like, really trust your intuition when you meet somebody, even a 12 year old. You’re gonna get a read on their energy and I hate to say sweetness level, like that just their overall just vibe.
Megan Porta: Kindness.
Taran Conwell: Yeah, kindness. Just if they’re really into kids and want to do this.
Megan Porta: Then if they’re being forced too, you can probably tell.
Taran Conwell: Exactly. Over the summer I definitely met a family who I could, I think the mom just wanted the daughter to be doing something and I was like, I don’t think she wants to do this. But then I just like to try them. Then we met for maybe 20 minutes. It’s not long, again, their mom’s here. They just wanna meet me, see my house, make sure I’m not a creep . Then I let them come over and just try. Do some tryouts. Okay, hey, can you come over? Then of course I’m paying them, right? So I’m like, Hey, can you come these two hours on Saturday? Because my kids are a little bit older, again, I could get my kids to read on it. My kids will say, oh, I loved her. We had so much fun. We didn’t like her. They can tell me. Yeah. But yeah, so I don’t put too much into the interview. Sometimes people are, oh, should we have them play with the kids during the interview? I don’t do that. Again, I just want to get my little read on them. Because I really do trust my intuition. Then I want to give it a try. Because again, with a mother’s helper, you’re not leaving your house, you’re staying home. The level of error is low. So you can try them out, get to know them. If your kids are a little bit younger, you can still keep an eye, be somewhere in the house that you are just kinda testing the waters, making sure you’re comfortable with what’s going on. I had a mom who I worked with who was like, yeah, I had one. I could just tell we weren’t in line with how we did discipline. She was very nice, but I could just tell how she grew up and how her mom did things was so different. I didn’t call her back because I just knew that was gonna be like oil and water. So yeah, that’s what I like to do. Meet them for a little bit and then just try them out. Nothing bad is gonna happen when you’re home with them anyways.
Megan Porta: So you lean on your intuition heavily, it sounds and then you also lean on your kids intuition, which I love. I think that’s very smart.
Taran Conwell: Yes. Especially my oldest, because she is a lot like me. We’ve had a babysitter once that wasn’t even a mother to help her. She was in college and she was like, please don’t have her come back. Nothing bad really happened, but she was like, I just didn’t like the way she’s talking to us, we call my middle boo. She was littler then. She’s like, I don’t like the way she was talking to Boo. She just very much knows.
Megan Porta: They know and you have to listen to that. So my oldest son, Been through physical therapy, occupational therapy, all the therapies in his life. For a stretch, we had people coming to our house, which was really cool. We had a similar situation where we had a new therapist come over and we let them play in the basement alone. When she left, he was like, don’t ever have her come back here again. She literally did not say a single word to me. She sat in the corner and I was like, oh my gosh. So you have to listen to them when they have those just bits of intuition. They know.
Taran Conwell: Even, like I said, even, three year olds know. You might sometimes, especially in the beginning, get a little resistance with the separation anxiety. So sometimes you’re like, oh, they don’t like when the babysitter comes over, they cry. But if, again, if you can tuck yourself away, whether it’s in your bedroom or your basement somewhere where they can’t see you and your kids, like in the first few minutes stop crying and have a good time, they will eventually be like, oh, I’m excited that my babysitter’s coming over. But if every time they’re miserable, whether or not the sitter is doing a good job or just not a good fit, or maybe your kid just isn’t ready. Sometimes that is a thing. Some kids just, they’re not ready for it. Especially if they’ve been with their parents and stay home. Yeah. But yeah, trust that if every time I have someone come over, my kid is miserable okay, this is not the right fit for us.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Do you ever have moms who are scared or nervous or worried about sending their kids to someone, into your house?
Taran Conwell: Yeah, I think they’re definitely yeah, they’re coming in, they’re just okay, let me meet this lady. Let me see what’s up. I’ll always have a meeting on the weekends. I always have them meet my husband too, because he might be the one who relieves them or he might be the one, depending on what’s going. I always remember when I was younger being the babysitter, it was always awkward talking to the dad. I don’t know, you just never knew. The moms would be like, oh, how is school? How is this? My husband’s pretty talkative. He’s like telling the high school babysitter his life story. So I like them to meet my husband. Several years ago when my youngest brother was born, we have a big age gap. He was still in college and so he lived with us during the summers. So that summer I was like, and this is actually my brother, he’s in college and he would work during the day, but I said You might see him. So just being really upfront about showing them your house and saying who lives there, letting them meet them. I think that eases their fears a lot because yeah, I do think some moms are probably, I don’t know my kid’s too young. Because like I said, there’s different ages of different maturity levels that might wanna do this, but sometimes the moms might be like, I don’t know if you’re ready. I’ve definitely encountered that a lot. But I think you come to my house, that I’m pretty normal. My kids can be a little wild. Because I think sometimes moms are like, will she be able to handle this? I’m looking forward to that too. Again, I still have three and they’re young, so I am looking for can you handle this? But yeah, I think the moms, once they get to know you, they come over and meet you. They’re getting an intuition vibe from you too, so yeah. It’s always good in that case, like I said, that they’re coming and meeting you. With Facebook, you have that oh, I see your friends with, and I’ll say that oh, I saw on Facebook, you’re friends with Megan Porta. How do you know her? You know what I mean? Get a little connection there.
Megan Porta: Yep. Yeah. Yeah. I have this super funny story. So my husband used to be a substitute teacher and we were looking for just someone to come over and babysit when our boys were younger because we never got out. So he asked one of the teachers that he really liked, what kid here, gimme a handful of kids who would be really good options to come over and watch our boys. She was like, oh, this girl is great. You have to call her. She’s amazing, she’s responsible, whatever. So we got her name and number and my husband. So this is back in the time, like before cell phones were really rampant, right? So people had like home phones and so we had her home number. So my husband called her house and her dad answered the phone. He says hi, is Sam there? I was like, you can’t do that. You have to explain who you are. He’s okay, hold on. We still laugh about it. I can’t believe I did that. I just called a 14 year old girl’s home and just said, Hey, is Sam there? ?
Taran Conwell: Yes. Yes. In the world of texting, I got a number from somebody and I texted a girl and the mom did call me. She said, I wanted to talk to you. You texted my 13. I was like, oh no, I get it. You’re right. These aren’t like college sitters who are out of their house. You probably need to talk to the mom.
Megan Porta: It’s so funny. Okay. Any other logistical things? I know you talked about money a little bit, the $8 an hour rate, but how do you recommend people pricing out this.
Taran Conwell: So the mother’s helper I had over the summer was in eighth grade. Because again, my kids are little. I’m like, I need someone a little bit older. So she was in eighth grade and I have three kids. So I paid her $10 an hour, that eight for her grade level, and then plus two extra kids. So that little formula I like to work with, I think it works really well. I do say though in the interview, like when they come and meet me, I’m like, okay, hey, like we get to know each other and I’m like, and the pay is $10 an hour. Are you okay with that? I let it be a conversation because I’m a woman and I also have daughters, so I want to empower them. This is like their first experience with work and I want to empower them to have a voice in the conversation. I have actually had girls say I was thinking 11 or I was thinking 12.
Megan Porta: Look at them. That’s amazing.
Taran Conwell: It’s exactly what I will say. I was like, good for you. I love that you know your worth. I will say that’s out of our budget, but I really appreciate that. I’ve also had college girls say that, if they come back with oh yeah, this is what I charge. Like I said, I’m in the suburbs of Chicago, so if I end up finding somebody, I get a name from somebody, maybe they’re usually in the city and like they just do, you get paid more in the city so they might say oh, it’s my rate. I will always say that. I love that. You know your worth. I’m so happy. That’s just outta my budget. So that’s how I work it. I go into it knowing what I want to pay for an hour and because like I said, I have that little formula and I’ve used it very successfully. 95% of the girls are very much oh, that’s perfect. Thank you so much. Yes. They’re very happy with the amount I’m paying them. Then, I always give them a raise every year. Again, I like to let them know like I really do appreciate them. So my mother’s helper who was a mother’s helper, but now my babysitter who’s been with me for four years, she no longer makes $8 an hour. Now she is 13. So over time I also have another child now.
Megan Porta: How do you deal with hours? Do you have girls who are like, I need this number of hours, or are they all pretty flexible or how does that go usually?
Taran Conwell: Yeah, that’s a good question. I love working with mother’s helpers because they are really flexible. They’re happy with, if you just want two hours, occasionally, or if again, sometimes if you are like, Hey, are you available Tuesdays and Thursdays from three to five? Then if they are, then they’re like, great. They’re never expecting a certain amount of hours. Usually when I work with older babysitters or nanny and they’re like, well I need to make this many hours for their more adult bills, then that’s where you get oh, I feel like I don’t need that much. So no, mother’s helpers are typically just really flexible. Like I said, it doesn’t even have to be consistent. If you just wanna try it out, do it occasionally, see how you like it, and just say I’m looking for somebody and try out a couple people, they’re not expecting that they’re gonna be called and used every weekend. You can just say that too, like I’m just looking for somebody a little bit here and there. They’re not really looking for any sort of set hours, which is nice.
Megan Porta: Yeah, just being upfront too, when you do the interview, just establishing what you’re expecting and all of that, I’m sure clears everything.
Taran Conwell: Yes. Yeah, exactly. Again, for me, in the past I’ve hired Mother’s Helpers to be like, I’m looking for this. Then them saying, yeah, that works with my schedule. Or trying it out. When I do want someone for a consistent basis, I still do the trial period. So I just say, Hey, we’re gonna give it a couple weeks, we’ll see how it goes. Because what if I have to fire them? You could just say can you come this Saturday? Can you come next Saturday? Maybe if it goes while you say then Hey, would you like to come every Saturday? Or, something to that effect. But be upfront.
Megan Porta: Firing a 12 year old or an eight year old would be hard.
Taran Conwell: Yes. You’re like, I don’t wanna get into that. I’m like, no, I get it. I totally get it.
Megan Porta: Is there anything we missed? This is such a great conversation and I think something that food bloggers with young kids especially will be like, okay, this is doable. This will make my business more manageable and will gimme the momentum and the encouragement I need to just keep moving with it. So I wanna make sure that we covered everything that you wanted to talk about.
Taran Conwell: Yeah, I think we really did cover everything. I think the biggest thing is really to just give it a try. If you were listening and you’re like, I don’t know if I could ever do that. I love when moms try it and they love it because again, it’s not a ton of money. I’m always like, okay, let me look at those Amazon purchases. If I get a mom who I don’t know, I can’t afford $20 every Saturday or something. I’m like, let me look. But also to know that, trying it out, you don’t have to. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it. It might not be for everybody, but every mom I’ve worked with has absolutely loved it. So yeah, just give it a try. If you feel like you could use a little bit of extra kid free time in your week, I always just say, just try it out. Nothing can hurt from doing two hours.
Megan Porta: Such a little investment of money and time and such a game changer if it works out. Great conversation. Thank you so much, Taran, for joining me today. It has been such a pleasure to learn from you and to talk to you.
Taran Conwell: Yes, it has been wonderful to talk to you, Megan. Again, and thank you so much for having me on.
Megan Porta: Yes. I like to ask all my guests at the end here if they have either a favorite quote or words of inspiration to share with us.
Taran Conwell: Okay. Yeah. I think one of my, one of my favorite quotes that I feel like I invented, but maybe I didn’t, is breakdown breakthrough. So I just say that when I’m in a hard phase, I’m just like, this is the breakdown and we’re gonna get to the breakthrough. So just working through it and just being like, it’s not gonna be like, I don’t like to say, it’s not gonna be like this forever. Because sometimes that’s not helpful. But this whole like, I’m in the breakdown, I’m gonna get to the breakthrough. It always happens like in any sort of situation, tough situation, argument with your spouse, argument with the friend, you’re like, break down and now we’ve broken through. So I really like to just keep that top of mind when dealing with any sort of hard phase.
Megan Porta: Yes, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. I love that. I’m gonna credit you, you can take credit for that quote cause I never heard it before.
Taran Conwell: I have Googled it. I’m like, did I just make this? I know it’s just two words, but did I make this up?
Megan Porta: Yeah, it’s yours. Claim it.
Taran Conwell: Okay, great. Thanks.
Megan Porta: We’ll put together a show notes page for you Taran. So if anyone wants to go look at those, go to eatblogtalk.com/undomesticmom. I would love for you to tell everyone where they can find you and also tell us a little bit about your podcast.
Taran Conwell: Yes. Yeah. So the Un Domestic Mom Podcast is geared towards helping millennial moms carve out time for themselves in all areas of life. I do that again, through getting a little bit of paid help through whether that’s a mother’s helper, babysitter, talking with your spouse about balancing the household load. Then also just taking things off of your plate and your calendar and not being someone who’s constantly busy. So I just like to talk on there about those different sectors and pulling from each one to really find time in your day, in your week, in your month, in your year, that’s all for you. Like I said, I like to work on my blog and my podcast during it, but whatever moms wanna do with it, I like to give them ideas and advice and just validation. Then I’m also on Instagram @undomesticmom, where I do daily Reels that are also about just inspiration, validation, advice on how to take that time for yourself and not feel guilty about it.
Megan Porta: Oh my gosh. I think we can all raise our hands when we think that we need help with some of that. So yes, everybody go check out Taran’s page and her podcast and be inspired. So thank you again, Taran, for being here. And thank you so much for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.
Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eat Blog Talk. Please share this episode with a friend who would benefit from tuning in. I will see you next episode.
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